Cherry Almond Red Lentil Granola Bars are perfect for refueling with post-workout or for a healthy and delicious snack! These soft and chewy bars are packed with nutrients thanks to red lentils, and I promise, you won’t even know they’re in there!
Thanks to my friends at USA Pulses for sponsoring this post! As always all opinions are my own.
Did you see the title of this recipe and think, “oh boy, what’s she doing sticking lentils in a granola bar?” Trust me, I’m a skeptic when it comes to putting beans or lentils in baked goods. I had an unfortunate baking fail where I tried making black bean brownies once, but this recipe surprised me and turned out both delicious and nutritious!
These Cherry Almond Red Lentil Granola Bars are a different story. When USA Pulses asked me to create a pre/post workout snack using pulses I immediately knew I wanted to use lentils. Before I get into all the health benefits of lentils, let me clarify what pulses are and no I’m not talking about what you check for to make sure someone is alive. Pulses are delicious, protein-packed, sustainable foods that include chickpeas, lentils, dry peas and beans.
I chose to use red lentils in these granola bars for a couple reasons. First, is that lentils have a very mild flavor and let’s be real, you probably don’t want to taste lentils in a sweet granola bar. For many people, myself included, there’s a part of my brain that doesn’t like the idea of taking an ingredient I use in savory recipes and adding it to something sweet.
Well I’m happy to report that unless you are trying incredibly hard to taste the lentils in these granola bars, they go undetected. I was actually really surprised because after those unfortunate black bean brownies, I can easily taste when beans have been hidden in baked goods. What the red lentils do add to these cherry almond granola bars is a slew of health benefits.
Running is my workout of choice and before and after every run I need a little snack to wake me up (I’m an early morning runner) and give me some energy after going hours without any food. If you can’t eat before or know that lentils may not be a good choice for you as pre-workout snack, they work just as well to refuel and repair your body post-workout.
Lentils are packed with iron, protein and fiber. All of which are important for runners and other athletes, the iron being especially important for females. A 1/2 cup serving of cooked lentils contains 15% of your daily iron needs, 12 grams of protein and around 30% of your daily fiber intake. Pretty impressive stats coming from these little red nuggets!
The Cherry Almond Red Lentil Granola Bars are gluten-free, vegan and easy to make. The amount of time it takes for the lentils to cook (about 10 minutes) is about the same amount of time it will take you to get everything else prepped. All of the ingredients are mixed together in one bowl and then the mixture is baked in a 9×13 pan. That’s all there is to it!
If you’re looking for a new way fuel or refuel your next workout or simple ways to eat healthier in the New Year, add more pulses to your diet! Sign up for the Half-Cup Habit, and see how easy it can be to add 1⁄2 cup serving of pulses to your diet just 3x per week for added nutrients. February 10 is World Pulses Day, an annual celebration of the nutritious, sustainable foods. Give these granola bars a try before or after your workout on World Pulses Day to celebrate in the most delicious way!
- 1 cup dry red lentils
- 1 cup oat flour, gluten-free if needed
- 1 cup rolled oats, gluten-free if needed
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup unsalted almonds, chopped
- 1/2 cup dried cherries, chopped
- 1/4 cup flax meal
- 1/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
- 2/3 cup almond butter
- 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
- 1/2 cup maple syrup, use 2/3 cup for a sweeter bar
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
- Combine the red lentils and 2 cups water in a medium saucepan over high heat and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to low, cover, and cook for about 10 minutes or until the lentils are just tender. Most of the liquid should be absorbed, but if there is a lot drain them.
- Preheat oven to 350° F. and line a 9x13 baking dish with foil. Spray with cooking spray.
- While the lentils cook add the remaining ingredients to a large bowl. Add in the cooked lentils and stir together until everything is incorporated.
- Pat the mixture evenly into the prepared baking dish. Bake for approximately 25-35 minutes or until the center is firm to the touch and the edges are lightly browned. Allow to cool slightly, then cut into bars. Store the bars in an airtight container for 2-3 days on the counter or wrap them individually and store them in an airtight container in the freezer.
- The bars will become crumbly if they are stored on the counter for more than a couple days. I highly recommend wrapping them individually in plastic wrap and storing them in a freezer bag or airtight container in the freezer. Let the frozen bar defrost on the counter for 5-10 minutes.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 16 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 254Total Fat: 11gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 139mgCarbohydrates: 33gFiber: 5gSugar: 13gProtein: 8g